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Natural Awakenings Chicago

Berries, Berries and More Berries

Jun 23, 2017 10:33PM ● By Janie Maxwell

Photo: Janie Maxwell

Midsummer is the time for berries in the Midwest. Farmers’ markets are brimming with berries of all types; buying in bulk is the way to save money and create a supply that lasts into well into the winter. Buy a few extra pints or pounds of berries and freeze some. It is simple and takes very little time.

         First, don’t wash the berries before freezing. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet or cookie sheet. They can be close together, but should not touch. Place the baking sheet in the freezer and let berries freeze completely. Empty the berries into freezer-quality Zip-Lock bags and place back in the freezer. Try freezing in snack-size bags to add to yogurt in single servings or in larger amounts. Freezing berries this way means berries won’t stick together and can be removed by the scoopful as needed.

         Right now, enjoy berries in salads, smoothies, added to yogurt or just eat them by the handful.


Summer Berry Salad

Combine the sweetness of berries with the rich flavor of dark, leafy greens for an inviting summer salad. Choose different ingredients all season long. Shop at a local farmers’ market for the most flavorful and freshest ingredients.

In a large serving bowl, combine:

Large bunch of fresh spinach,
    lettuce or kale

1 cup of fresh blueberries, blackberries
    or raspberries

3 green onions, chopped

½ cup chopped nuts or pumpkin seeds

½ cup gorgonzola or feta cheese

To make the dressing, combine in a bowl:

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp local honey

Whisk in:

½ cup high-quality olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together until well combined.

Serve the dressing on the side or toss the salad.


Janie Maxwell, MS, RDN, LDN, is the executive director of the Illinois Farmers Market Association, an association focused on supporting local farmers, food producers and Illinois farmers markets. For more information, visit

Mixed Berry Crisp

“This is the crisp that I make for crew member birthday celebrations! Add ice cream to make it refreshing,” says Jen Miller, co-owner of Prairie Wind Family Farms.

Yields: 6 servings

6 cups fresh mixed berries and/or stone fruit (such as blueberries and cherries), washed,
     or 2 (12-oz) packages frozen mixed berries (about 6 cups), thawed

1 cup fresh strawberries

¼ cup sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

¾ cup old-fashioned oats

2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

¼ tsp salt

7 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter, diced

Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine berries, ¼ cup sugar, ¼ cup flour and lemon juice in large bowl; toss to blend well.

         Transfer berry mixture to 9-inch diameter glass pie dish. Combine remaining ¾ cup flour, oats, brown sugar, spices and salt in medium bowl. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until topping holds together in small moist clumps.

         Sprinkle over berry mixture. Bake crisp until berry mixture bubbles thickly and topping is golden brown, about 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Prairie Wind Family Farm is owned by Jen and Jeff Miller, where they grow a wide variety of certified organic vegetables, raise hens on pasture for eggs and provide fresh, locally grown fruit to CSA members. The farm lies within the heart of Prairie Crossing, a conservation community in Grayslake, Illinois. For more information, call 847-548-4030 or visit